Qu Fu

After Beijing, we took another overnight train, this one shorter (10 hours instead of 19) and to Qu Fu. Qu Fu is the ancestral home of the Kong family, whose most famous ancestor is Confucius (aka "Master Kong"). And when we say "ancestral home," we're not kidding. Eighty-six generations of his family lived in the same compound over the centuries.

Qu Fu is really nothing but a tourist destination. It has three main things you should see: Confucius' mansion, his temple, and his forest (where he's buried). We intended to do all three, but only managed the temple and the mansion.

The other notable thing about Qu Fu is that it's easy to get into (the train stopped for five minutes while we got off), but hard to get out of. In China, you generally can't buy train tickets more than a few days in advance, and you can't buy them anywhere but the city of origin. So our plan was to come to Qu Fu, then buy the tickets we needed to get to Shanghai a couple of days later.

We weren't suprised to find that you can't go directly from Qu Fu to Shanghai. Qu Fu is not a big town and it's not on any direct lines to Shanghai. So we were like "OK, we'll buy a ticket to Jinan (the nearby provincial capital), then get tickets from Jinan to Shanghai".

We were somewhat surprised to find that you can't get train tickets out of Qu Fu in either soft seat or soft sleeper, which we needed because of our relatively (compared to most train users) large amount of luggage. You also can't get an express bus out of Qu Fu to Jinan, the only type of bus with any kind of luggage space. After trying and failing to find a rental car and driver to take us, Alison finally got someone at our hotel to find a guy (who we think was probably her brother-in-law or boyfriend or something) to agree to drive us and our stuff to Jinan for about $75.

Meanwhile, we called our travel agent in Shanghai to help us get train tickets from Jinan to Shanghai. She referred us to a local Jinan agent (remember, you can't buy train tickets anywhere but in the city of origin), who eventually informed us that there were no spaces on any train from Jinan to Shanghai that day, in any class. We quickly asked our driver to take us to the travel agent's office instead of the train station, at the same time inquiring about airfare from Jinan to Shanghai, which turned out to be easily available for that evening, at only 20% more than the train tickets would have been. We snapped up the opportunity, and, when our driver finally found the travel agent's office, snapped up the tickets and happily went to wait at the Jinan airport for 4 hours and for our final escape from Qu Fu.

Here are the pictures from around Qu Fu: